Love My Kumato!

What the hell?  I know what you’re thinking – she’s typo-ing again.  She’s letting her iPhone auto-correct.  Is this a new Japanese car?

None of the above.  It’s this:

What’s that, you ask?  Why, yes it is one damn ugly colored tomato!

My biggest fear in sharing these fabulous fruits with you is that they will revoke my Jersey Girl card for being a traitor to the finest tomato in the land – the Jersey tomato – but this is really a delicious tomato!

Found in my local Wegman’s – right near the Jersey tomatoes – were packages of these brownish, rustyish, green tinged, ugly colored tomatoes.  I have raised some genetically mutated children who do not eat tomatoes (none of them do – making it harder to believe it was a switched at birth thing), and I thought these might be an awesome way to hide tomatoes in foods so the kids didn’t know what they were eating.  Well, the kids were too smart for that – identifying them immediately as tomatoes – but that leaves more for me!

These are sort of on the sweet side, with just a bit of the tomato “tang” you are probably familiar with.  Don’t let the color fool you – these are not rotten, mushy tomatoes.  The flesh is firm, the skin is tight (without the benefit of the wicked mad surgical skills of Dr. Veitia), and it has almost a crunch to it when you bite in.

I tossed mine into a salad so that I could appreciate the tomato in it’s simplest form, and I can’t help but wonder how these would be fried.  They are a bit on the small side, but I think they might be really tasty, and hold up well to the frying pan.  These would also be delicious in a caprese salad – not to mention beautiful against the white mozzarella cheese!

Even if you live in Jersey, look for the Kumatos the next time you go shopping.  You just might find that Jersey has some stiff competition!

Maggiano’s Little Italy – A Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review – Salads

There are two types of gastric bypass patients – those that can eat salad, and those that can’t.  Of those of us that can eat salad, we can either eat whatever kind of salad we want, or we stick with chopped versions of salad – like the traditional Cobb salad.

If it’s just me, I always prefer the chopped salad.  It’s easier to eat, they usually throw in all sorts of bonus proteins like eggs, avocado, and bacon.  But the waiter come over with the incredibly glowing recommendation for the Italian Tossed Salad.  He said, “It tastes just like the Olive Garden salad!”  As we all know, people only ever eat at the Olive Garden for the salad and bread sticks, so I ordered the Italian tossed salad, and the Caesar, which Eilis wanted.

What do you know?  The Maggiano’s tossed Italian salad tasted JUST like the Olive Garden tossed salad – with all the same components.  As a matter of fact, the photo above is of the Olive Garden salad, but it looked so much like the Maggiano’s salad, I just used that one.  It had a nice Italian dressing – a little too much, as it pooled on the bottom, and had tomatoes, romaine lettuce, olives, red onion and croutons.  Tasty – just like Olive Garden.

The Caesar salad was really good.  The dressing was creamy, and the huge slivers of Paremesan cheese shaved on top were delicious.  Eilis ate nearly the entire Caesar salad on her own, but it’s okay, because if we had wanted, they would have brought more.  Just like at the Olive Garden.

For those of you who are gastrically altered, there are options with way more protein, but one is the chicken and apple salad.  I can’t eat much in the way of chicken – it gets stuck nearly every time.  In addition to the chicken, there are walnuts in the salad, so you are getting more protein that way.  The other salad that would have been better protein wise is the chopped antipasto (which I would have ordered had the kids not been there).  That one carries a wallup of fat, though, with salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, and provolone cheese.

Overall, the salads were good, but if you have had gastric bypass, you are already too full to move on to the main course.  I did – but only for your sake.  The things I sacrifice for my blog readers!

Up next – the main courses!

Cafe TuTu Tango A Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

As a person who has had a gastric bypass procedure, it can sometimes be challenging to find something on the menu at a mainstream restaurant that I can – or want to – eat.  As an overweight person, I didn’t realize how absolutely HUGE the portions can be at restaurants, so no matter where I go now, I end up taking most of my meal home with me – and even doing that, much of it ends up going to waste.  I try to steer clear of the things that are fried, things that have rice or pasta, anything with bread.  It really does wake you up to the fact that my options are limited wherever we go.

Cafe TuTu Tango was one of our favorite places to get a bite to eat when we lived in Orlando.  Jim even organized an office Christmas party there one year, and everyone had a blast.  While driving down International Drive in Orlando during our recent trip, thinking we might find a new restaurant to try, Cafe TuTu Tango popped up and a quick decision was made to revisit our old stomping grounds.

The “theme” of Tutu Tango is “Food for the Starving Artist”.  Everything here is served tapas style – or appetizer sized.  This keeps the cost of getting something to eat at a reasonable level, and it allows you to try a couple of things, or a table to try several things, that can be passed and shared.  This place is a gastric bypass patient’s dream come true!

On our lunch visit, we walked in to find the restaurant virtually empty.  We were quickly seated, and both girls given crayons and pictures of Backyardigans characters to color.  Granuaile LOVES the Backyardigans, and she was thrilled.  Jim and I browsed the menu, and quickly discouraged Eilis from ordering off of the children’s menu and allowing us to pick some things we thought she might like to try.  The kids’ menu at Cafe TuTu Tango is similar to every other children’s menu you’ve seen – heavy on the fried and fatty.  Any kid would be glad to have something – corn dogs, chicken strips, the usual fare.  But we’re emphasizing healthy eating, and the adult menu has a bigger variety of better for you choices.

The specials menu features a hummus with pita chips, and it’s only $3 for a good sized portion.  I order that, as I currently love hummus, but Eilis apparently enjoys it as well and is scooping up quite a bit of it on the tiny pitas and pita chips.  Jim orders a bowl of black bean soup for he and I to share, and I have to say, of all the foods we ate, this was the one disappointment for me.  There was an overwhelming citrusy taste to it, and very little of any other flavor.  I felt like I should add salt, but then didn’t want to add salt because it tasted so citrusy that I thought the salt would make it taste funny.  Jim ended up with the whole bowl after I braved a second bite to determine I really didn’t like it.

The kids practically devoured the shrimp and chicken potstickers, which you can order steamed like we did or deep fried.  Eilis didn’t even try the sauce until the very end, and then was dipping everything into it.  We also ordered a chicken pizza to give the kids something familiar.  The flavorful, thin crusted pizza had chunks of chicken, carmelized onion, and three cheeses.  The chicken pizza is a white pizza with a nice garlicky flavor.  Another big hit was the scallops – broiled to perfection and with a lime sauce that was really tasty.  Scallops are one of the foods I can easily eat, and after sharing one of the large scallops between Granuaile and Eilis, I ate one whole one myself and split the last one with Jim. 

With drinks – a very nicely flavored unsweetened ice tea for me, and sodas for the kids (Jim only drinks water), and a magnificent looking dessert of banana pizza (bananas, caramel, and ice cream atop a pizza crust), the bill came to about $50 for the 4 of us.  Because the portions are smaller sized, there really is no waste for someone who has a compromised gastrointestinal tract like we do after weight loss surgery, and you really can choose from a good selection of proteins, salads, the soup (there are two on the menu).  I would have been more than content with the scallop dish and a small salad (there are 5 salads on the menu, and 3 contain some form of protein) if I was there eating alone, but had PLENTY to eat even in choosing foods I knew the kids would like.  The pizza crust is thin enough that I could easily eat it without getting sick, which a lot of pizza crust can do to me, and there are many other options on the menu I could have tried with a table full of WLS patients that would have skipped any type of bread/crust at all. 

The added bonus to Cafe TuTu Tango is they feature art work throughout the restaurant from local artists.  You can purchase any of the pieces on display, and you really get a good sampling of local talent – in everything from sculpture to painting. 

This is definitely a must do restaurant for Gastric Bypass patients – and anyone who is looking for a menu filled with delicious surprises, international flavors and eclectic flair.

CiCi’s Pizza Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

CiCi’s Pizza, for those unfamiliar with the place, is a pizza buffet restaurant.  For a set price – around $6 or $7, depending on the CiCi’s you go to – you can eat as much as you want of their many varieties of pizza, macaroni with a red gravy or an alfredo sauce, and two or three kinds of pasta.  They also have a small selection of desserts – a dessert pizza, that is kind of like an apple pie on a pizza crust; cinnamon buns; and chocolate brownies. 

In terms of the gastric bypass patient, CiCi’s might not be your first choice.  Pizza is high in fat, after all, and fat is one of those foods we should avoid.  Pizza rests on pizza crust, and that is another thing that for many gastric bypass patients is not a safe food.  But I say go, my fellow WLS buddies!  Enjoy the pizza, have some salad, skip the pasta, and you’ll come away happy.

The pizza at CiCi’s is mostly thin crusted (although you will see one or two Sicilian varieties), and if you don’t eat the back of the crust, you really shouldn’t have any trouble at all with the bread part of the pizza.  You can skip the pizza with tomato sauce (although I do not know if CiCi’s uses sugar in their sauce, I always assume that any place that serves red sauce uses sugar), because you will find many options without red sauce.  But even the pizza with the red sauce doesn’t overload the crust with the sauce, and for most of you, it should still be a safe bet.

The cheese, as we all know, is chock full of protein, and some of the CiCi’s toppings are added protein.  There is a ham and cheddar, chicken, BBQ chicken, as well as the more traditional pepperoni, sausage, beef, and ham and pineapple pizzas.  You can make a good choice even at the pizza buffet, and they are really very accomodating, so if you want them to make you something, they will. 

The salad bar varies from restaurant to restaurant.  Some of them have two or three pre-made, pre-dressed salads, usually including a pasta salad, a caesar salad, and a mixed green salad.  Other CiCi’s have a regular salad bar.  This one we went to had the pre-made, pre-dressed salads, and I stuck with the mixed green salad with an Italian type dressing.  You can certainly skip the salad if you fear the fat content in the pre-dressed salads, but I had no trouble with it.  I even had a little bit of a bacon ranch salad that was offered – a mixed green vegetable salad with bacon, a little cheese, and ranch dressing.  It tasted good and I didn’t dump, so I was pleased with that.

If you’re craving dessert, this is not the place to find happiness.  Your options on the dessert buffet are limited to ooey gooey chocolately delicious looking brownies; ooey gooey sticky sweet cinnamon buns; and ooey gooey caramely delicious apple pie type pizza.  I would guess that the sugar content in any of the desserts is enough to send you into some kind of serious, laying on the floor, begging for mercy dumping situation, and if the sugar doesn’t bother you, the fat likely will.  But if you are the kind of WLS patient that can handle that stuff, they do cut the brownie pieces into small squares, and the apple pie pizza thing into thin slices, so you may be able to get away with a taste of either of those.  The cinnamon buns are much smaller than those you would get at the mall Cinna-Bon store, but they are the most generously sized dessert, so you might want to skip those.

You can add whatever kind of drink you want to the buffet, and they do have water at no additional cost.  I stick with unsweetened iced tea.

CiCi’s is certainly not gourmet pizza, but it is good tasting pizza, and it’s a great restaurant to take a family with kids.  For those of you who hesitate to go to a buffet with your family because you know you can no longer eat your money’s worth, CiCi’s is a reasonably priced enough option that even if you can only eat one or two slices and a bit of salad, you won’t feel you’ve wasted money. 

I highly recommend CiCi’s pizza to those of you who have had Gastric Bypass surgery – and to those who haven’t.  It’s enjoyable for the whole family.